Case Studies for Lisa A. Anderson

2017 WL 5615821 (Mich Ct App, Nov. 21, 2107) (Wayne County Circuit Court Case No. 15-008243-NO). Governmental immunity protects communities from being sued for their day-to-day work. But what if they receive money for a function that looks like a business? In this case a woman broke her leg while riding a water slide at a park operated by the Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA). Plaintiff claimed that HCMA was negligent in constructing and maintaining the waterslide which led to her injury. While this type of claim would normally be barred by governmental immunity, she said that the proprietary function exception to immunity applied to allow her lawsuit. The trial court denied RSJA’s motion for summary disposition, finding there were material issues of fact regarding whether the operation of the water park was conducted primarily for the purpose of producing a profit for the HCMA. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s finding, holding that, despite the fact that the HCMA generated income from admissions, parking and food sales, plaintiff could not demonstrate that the park was operated for the primary purpose of producing a profit.
881 F3d 432 (6th Cir 2018). A religious radio station with a contract to rent antennas on a city-owned communications tower wanted to add antennas and increase its broadcast power. The FCC had approved the increase in broadcast power and the broadcaster asserted that that federal decision meant the city had to approve its request. The trial court dismissed all of plaintiff’s claims, finding that the city’s denial was a proper assertion of its property rights as the tower owner and not a violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s dismissal.